And the winner is... C.W. Matthews. (Oh, and thousands of Northeast Atlanta commuters.)
A contract for $139.6 million was awarded Tuesday to the Marietta-based road contractor to design and build a 10-mile extension of the existing I-85 HOT lane in Gwinnett County, the Georgia Department of Transportation announced. That means drivers will be able to bypass congestion on the heavily traveled northeast Atlanta corridor for a far longer stretch.
The project involves construction of a single toll lane in each direction between Old Peachtree Road and Hamilton Mill Road.
The toll lane extension is scheduled for groundbreaking next spring, and set to open in June 2018.
C.W. Matthews submitted the lowest-priced bid and was scored highest in a best value comparison that also took into account the technical aspects of the design such as the bidder's approach to traffic control, project management and minority subcontractor participation. Two other design-build teams, Lane Construction/Infrastructure Consulting & Engineering and E.R. Snell/Moreland Altobelli, priced their proposals at $142 million and $154.8 million respectively.
C.W. Matthews is by far the highest-paid road contractor in the state. The company was paid about $1.1 billion for work by the Department of Transportation from fiscal 2010 through fiscal 2014, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported. C.W. Matthews is also a major political donor, having contributed about $30,000 to Gov. Nathan Deal's and more than $30,000 to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle's campaigns.
Last week, The AJC reported that C.W. Matthews contributed of $50,000 in February to the Georgia Transportation Alliance, an arm of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce that promotes spending on road, bridge and rail projects to ease traffic congestion.
The I-85 express lane extension is one of three major toll lane projects coming soon to metro Atlanta. The other two are:
- Northwest Corridor: 30 miles of new lanes along I-75 from Akers Mill Road to Hickory Grove Road and along I-575 from I-75 to Sixes Road. Construction is ongoing, with opening in spring or summer 2018. Cost: $834 million.
I-75 South Metro Express Lanes: 12 miles of two new barrier-separated, reversible lanes within the I-75 median from McDonough Road to Stockbridge Highway. Construction is under way, with the lanes projected to open in winter 2017. Cost: $221 million.